The kitchen is quiet. Darkness that has nothing to do with the absence of daylight fills the room. Everyone's gone to bed. It's late.

It is late, the kitchen is dark and it's her birthday. Birthday's don't mean what they used to do in their blackout world to her. Aaron had brought her flowers, Miles had given her a wink and a genuine smile. But still, at the end of this day, her heart is filled with the heaviness of a deep disappointment that should not be there.

She walks to one of the kitchen cabinets and pours herself a glass of whiskey from the bottle that Miles still thinks he is able to hide from her. But she's a Matheson too. Hiding his whiskey from her is pretty much a lost cause. The town outside has gone to bed too but she is still awake. The slow disappointment fills her belly again.

She pours herself a glass of whiskey and she thinks of him.

Her mind fills with the scent of a black leather jacket and tallness, smugness and piercing blue eyes. Her mind fills with all the hating him, the loathing him, of craving to be around him. She hates it, she hates herself for it, no that is no longer true, hating herself for thinking of him is something she let go a long time ago now, but her mind takes her to him.

The one person, that one man, she longed to see today, on her birthday, on this day, for reasons that should not be there, because they are dangerous and thrilling and make her feel so much more alive inside of her heart. She is not ready to look beyond that.

He's probably out there, fucking another woman who wants a piece of the former General.

He's probably out there, forgetting about the unusual but somehow insane natural bound that has forged between them from the moment they got on the road together to make their way back to Miles and lots of trouble.

He's probably out there, not giving a shit about it all.

Not true, her mind immediately protests, being eased by the whiskey she's drinking.

Not true.

Charlie turns around and looks out of the kitchen window at the fading moonlight now clouds chase its light. She stares and thinks about him. She thinks about his crude words, his teasing words and his eyes that are always there the moment she can't stop herself and has to search for his eyes.

She remembers. She remembers the rain and the road. They were still weeks away from reaching Willoughby but also weeks away from New Vegas and the crowded tent where she had watched him fight for the first time.

She had been caught in a nightmare. She had woken up to a the sound of a small fire and a silent forest and his hand wrapped around her shoulder to ground her. When she had woken up and had looked up she had found the deep sadness with too much deep understanding within his eyes that had normally carried so much steel and ego inside of them. It had been the moment she had realized he could be a manipulative charming asshole but that underneath, the raw sadness and deep loneliness had been real. She had been too shocked by the gentle warmth of his large hand around her shoulder and the connection she had found in his eyes to pull away from his touch and before she was able to think or move he had moved back to his place near the fire, taking watch so she could sleep. His wide shoulders a dark silhouette in the night.

She remembers. She remembers that moment where she had found more inside his eyes and inside of him than she ever thought Monroe could be. And somehow she cares about all those memories she has. He probably doesn't. Why should he? They have drifted apart since they started the war against kaki. She knows about his thirst for hot revenge but she also knows more of the man Monroe is. So she wishes she would still hate him the way she did, but he has gotten under her skin and he's a part of her fighting heart now.

She stares into the dark while she takes another sip of whiskey.

And then, it is there. The familiar sound of the rhythm of his boots fill the kitchen behind her. His presence fills the whole room the way always happens while he walks into any kind of room while her chest fills with something wild and soothing at the same time. She doesn't turn around.

He stops right behind her, right inside of her personal space, this man always knows how to play with personal space, close enough to almost touch her back with his wide chest.

'You didn't think I would forgot your birthday, Charlie.' His voice is raspy warmth against her neck and ear.

Her body betrays her by giving in before she can stop it because her whole body flows to his warmth while she almost leans into him. A soft smile plays with her lips while she soaks up how close he is. He has never been this close. Not like this.

She knows there is a smug grin playing with his lips without looking at him. It's there because she is still standing close to him, because she is not fighting whatever this is and she knows he knows and he knows she knows.

It's just him and her in a quiet kitchen, standing in the darkness while the moon adds some light to the night outside of the window.

Time seems to flow slower now, now she is standing here in the shadow of his body.

Bass. He's here.

He has remembered her birthday. And when he moves closer to her, close enough to take in his scent she knows so well, his scent of steel and ego and fight and him and her and the way his eyes change when he looks at her, she knows it's all still there. She knows he does care because he is here. He has found her. It's the way he stands so close to her, it is in there in the warmth of his voice.

It's him and her in a quiet kitchen in the darkness while the moon adds some light to the night outside of the window. And when his hand slowly trails to her hip and his mouth is on his way to hers, she finally knows why she longed to see him today.